Faith Story by Ps Rachel Ongkili
Owning and operating a hotel business has always been a dream of my beloved, visionary Dad. However, about 2 – 3 years ago when the idea initially came up, I had repeatedly expressed my objection to opening a new family business because I felt that we already had so many things going on and that our resources should be channeled towards improving the productivity of existing businesses. Plus, we had zero experience in operating and managing a hotel and there were already a fair number of hotels in the district.
Now, imagine how I felt about opening a hotel right in the middle of a pandemic. Surely you couldn’t pick a worse time to participate in the tourism and hospitality industry. However, God softened my heart, and I begrudgingly began to participate in running the hotel, but with very little passion. It wasn’t until the Blessing Ceremony of the hotel in December 2020, and I saw my staff proudly wearing their uniforms, that I heard God speak to me, reminding me to look at the young people who we had hired, and how this hotel was a blessing to them, providing job opportunities for the young people of Kota Marudu, and contributing to the economy of the district albeit in a small way. That totally changed the way I applied myself to this new business!
Thankfully, things began to pick up, and what an encouragement that was! From December 2020 until May 2021, some movement was allowed within Sabah. That meant that we were able to sell a good number of rooms – sufficient to cover the salaries of my staff, plus expenses. We saw all kinds of guests check-in through our doors; from weary transporters heading up further north, to suppliers and contractors, and also families who were returning to visit their families up north. Some corporates even began booking our conference room for events! Things looked good for us, and it seemed that soon we would be able to turn a monthly profit! Praise the Lord!
Then came the announcement that our nation would be in MCO (Movement Control Order) from 1st June 2021 onwards. We were all disheartened by this, and I know my staff were worried about whether this would have an impact on their jobs. Inter-district travel (even for work purposes) would be greatly restricted, and who knows for how long. Would we still have guests? Would staff salaries have to be cut? As we were able to obtain the necessary permissions from the government, we made the decision to stay open since we still had some financial capacity to maintain our staff salaries for a month, maybe two. Beyond that we would have to come back to the drawing board and review things again. As the number of rooms sold began to dwindle down, so too did our confidence. The increase in COVID-19 cases also bore on our minds. While some people were allowed to travel inter-district for work, the high number of cases was surely a deterrent for anyone to travel at all.
But praise be to God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think! Even though the number of rooms sold was far below what we had achieved previously, through God’s grace and divine outworking of things, we never had a single night of zero occupancy! At the end of each month when we reviewed the books, we saw that we had sold enough rooms to continue paying our staff and ensuring that their jobs and income stream remained intact. How good is our God! Through this experience He continues to tutor my heart to walk faithfully in obedience to His Word, His leading and prompting. He reminds me that our obedience to Him is not just for ourselves but also for the benefit of others. Who knows whose lives might be touched and transformed in a meaningful way, when we choose to obey Him when He calls us to, even if it seems to go against what we perceive to be rational and wise. He always knows best. When God has called to you something, you can believe that He is the One who will provide what we need to do that which He has called us to. All glory to God!